Zero crawl space in 100 yr old home

Reply

  #1  
Old 03-15-10, 10:08 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3
Zero crawl space in 100 yr old home

Hey, I've looked through the forums a bit and I think there is some good experience, so I could use some sage wisdom.

I am looking at buying a house which is about 100 years old. Its been rehabbed over the past few years, and I feel good about everything except one area: there is zero crawl space under about half of the first floor (kitchen and laundry room). By zero crawl space I mean the floor joists are literally resting on the dirt. The joists I can see look old, but no rot or mold.

A few things make the situation worse...
-A small area was found to have evidence of termites, though it wasn't in the crawl space area. The termites weren't active, but its winter still
-The center of the basement, which is dirt, was clearly a pool of water recently, and the existing sump pump was at one point under water. It was all dry when I was there twice, and its been wet out so maybe that problem has been fixed?
-There is a very soft spot in floor to the entry way on the first floor, deep into the zero crawl space area.

The house looks to be a great deal otherwise, but the more I think about it, the riskier it seems.

also, the seller wont fix the crawl space or the termite damage.


Should I cut and run or ignore this stuff?

(location is pittsburgh pa, in the southside slopes)
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 03-15-10, 10:27 PM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Midwest
Posts: 72
"Should I cut and run or ignore this stuff?"

That depends on your knowledge and ability.

100 hundred yr old house with floor joists in contact with dirt?

Those joists are old growth oak and a real 2" by. They are damaged !

What level of awareness do you have?
 
  #3  
Old 03-15-10, 10:51 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3
haha..not much knowledge. not much cash after sale either. ability and awareness are debatable. plenty of ambition though.
 
  #4  
Old 03-16-10, 05:27 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 10,353
Upvotes Received: 16
Well, you did one thing right, you stopped and asked . Several red flags here.

Termites, without a proper inspection! If they can't tell you whether they are active or not and they can't access the zero clearance crawl, then the job is not complete and you need to know.

"Its been rehabbed over the past few years" Do you really trust the work they did that you now can't see? This red flag alone would stop me in my tracks. Since none of the rehab work involved digging out a reasonable depth crawl, it tells me they were not up to date on air quality or energy efficiency standards, which means the haven't air sealed properly and that work is probably burried under a lot of new insulation intended to make the work look good. The steps you can't see are more important than the steps you can.

Signs of water. Not only is this a crawl space/basement problem, it is a landscaping issue. Mold is the modern day four letter word in housing and this house has to have some and he doesn't want to fix that area because he knows where it is.

You have to be familiar with all of the "flip this house" and "Mike Holmes" shows, so what do you think they would run into if they came over and started fixing up this antique. Mike doesn't have to look very hard for shows to film, America is full of them and this is probably one. I have never pulled something apart to fix a problem and not found a ton of additional problems.

If he will come down $100,000 and the bank will give you access to that money to fix this up properly, it might be a good buy. But with empty pockets and a can of worms, I'd cut and run.

And if that's not enough, I'm just getting started, permits, inspections for work that was done, electrical k&t or upgraded, plumbing, septic or sewer, heat loss (a real energy audit), your inspector (and a good one), and so on.

The sad part of this story is that many of our older very charming homes are now worth very little. My NE area is full of them. This is a buyers market and there are better buys out there.

Bud
 
  #5  
Old 03-16-10, 12:52 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3
Thanks for the input.

I agree that the old houses are sometimes worth much less due to age alone. New construction in the area sells for 3 or 4 times as much. I've seen empty lots for sale close to the same amount as worn out houses next to them.

I think I could buy it, move in and be fine for a while, maybe a long time. Eventually it'll hit the breaking point though I guess.

In my mind DIY goes as far as weekend projects...kitchens, windows, siding repairs etc. replacing floor joists and creating some sort of foundation where one didnt exist is a little more involved than that haha.

Maybe I'll look at the new condos down the street.
 
  #6  
Old 03-16-10, 01:13 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 20,374
Upvotes Received: 141
Houses like that are often what I buy for rental houses. Quite often they are tough as nails and many of the conditions you mention keep the price low. That said there is nothing on a house I cannot fix. Whether the house is worth it is up to you. If you plan on hiring the work done I'd say walk away but if your the kind of guy who just decides to rip a floor up to see what's underneath than it's possibly a good house for you.

If you do get the house check back with any questions. I run into all those problems on a regular basis and they are not the end of the world to fix (but it does take tools, sweat and you can't be afraid of tight spaces or spiders).
 
  #7  
Old 03-19-10, 04:59 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6
Originally Posted by psw5pitt View Post
Thanks for the input.

I agree that the old houses are sometimes worth much less due to age alone. New construction in the area sells for 3 or 4 times as much. I've seen empty lots for sale close to the same amount as worn out houses next to them.

I think I could buy it, move in and be fine for a while, maybe a long time. Eventually it'll hit the breaking point though I guess.

In my mind DIY goes as far as weekend projects...kitchens, windows, siding repairs etc. replacing floor joists and creating some sort of foundation where one didnt exist is a little more involved than that haha.

Maybe I'll look at the new condos down the street.
If I were you I would have a foundation waterproofing expert look it over and quive you a quote on waterproofing the basement properly and digging a crawlspace and supporting the portion of the house on the ground. You probably ought to count on having to sister up all the joists and maybe even replace the floor boards.

Sounds to me that you can count on about $20K min worth of projects to stabilize the home, let alone other needed modernization projects (elect, plumbing, insulating etc)

Old houses are great; you never can complain that you have nothing to do!!
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes